High tech military vehicles which use AI to operate are now in production for the Russian military, according to senior defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
The robots will be able to operate largely independently, negating the need for a remote operator like many current drones in military use.
While much unmanned military hardware has focussed on aerial combat, for example with attack drones, these vehicles are land based, more resembling tanks in their design and function.
Shoigu is also known to be in the process of assembling a unit of the AI driven tanks.
Speaking at a Kremlin-sponsored youth forum, he said: “Serial production of combat robots has begun.
“We already have not just experimental prototypes, but robots which can really be shown in sci-fi movies, capable of fighting on their own.”
Shoigu – a powerful close ally of President Vladimir Putin – told his audience in Moscow: “Nor can I omit what is called the weapon of tomorrow.
“A lot of work is being done here as well.”
The defence minister did not specify details of the specific ‘sci-fi’ unmanned weaponry – but he is known to be forming the first special unit of tank robots ‘soon’ in the Russian army.
“The first unit with strike robots will be set up in the Russian Armed Forces to operate five Uran-9 robotic systems or 20 combat vehicles,” the Russian defence ministry announced recently.
Troops are undergoing training “to operate Uran-9 robotic vehicles in special military units”.
A video shows the unmanned tank in action.
It is armed with a 30mm automatic gun, Ataka anti-tank missiles and Shmel flamethrowers.
The Russian army currently possesses mine clearance robots called Uran-6, firefighting Uran-14s, as well as assault Uran-9s.
Underwater and spy robots are also in development.
Shoigu said last month: “We expect to continue expanding the range of robots, which, of course, are already in demand in the military today.
“These will be heavy robots (for mine clearance) and everything related to the further development of scouts, radiation and chemical reconnaissance robots.
“This applies to surface and underwater robots.”
Russia has also developed the so-called kamikaze ‘Flying Kalashnikov’ – which ‘prowls for hours’ in the sky acting as an aerial minefield, say reports.
Called the Lancet, it is made by an offshoot of famous gunmaker Kalashnikov.
This unmanned war machine – also dubbed the ‘Wunderwaffe’ – has been battle-tested by the Russian Spetsnaz in Syria, according to the Moscow media.
It acts like an aerial minefield, loitering in the sky above a battlefield for many hours posing “an insurmountable obstacle for enemy drones”.
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Strongly pro-Kremlin TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov recently told state-controlled Rossiya 1 TV: “Russia has something that cools the zeal of those who want to fight.
“Ukraine, for example, has bought Turkish Bayraktar drones.
“Flying at twice the speed, the Russian Lancet leaves no chance for the Bayraktars (a military drone used by Ukraine).
“And this thing also mines the sky.”
Despite his boasts about the prowess of Russia’s new weapons, Shoigu – who holds the rank of an army general – slammed the quality of some domestic-made weapons which have been used by his forces in Syria.
“I will tell you frankly that we have encountered a very large number of unpleasant surprises there,” he said.
“Weaponry that has been taken into service, has been through state trials, is essentially no such thing.
“We have taken out of the arsenal and completely stopped producing almost 15 [systems].”